The Bullets lost a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter tonight and fell to the Golden State Warriors, 109-103, in a bizzare game that saw Coach Dick Motta and assistant Bernie Bickerstaff ejected in the final minute.
Washington should have won the contest against the slumping Warriors, who were without star guard Phil Smith during the second half. Smith, the team's leading scorer, partially tore an Achilles' tendon in the second quarter after scoring 20 points.
But Golden State ralied behind Robert Parish and two unheralded reserves, veteran Nate Williams and rookie Wayne Cooper, to wrestle away the victory from the Bullets. The loss was the third in seven games during this road trip.
Motta and Bickerstaff, who had become increasingly upset with the officiating as the game went on, finally erupted with 19 seconds left. After Wes Unseld missed two straight shots, both of which the Bullet coaches thought should have drawn foul calls from referee Wally Rooney, the coaches expressed their opinions.
Bickerstaff had to be restrained by Golden State Coach A1 Attles after he was ejected by head ref Hygh Evans. Then Motta went into the floor and screamed at Rooney, and Motta was tossed out. Motta also had to be held back by Attles. Moments later, Bullet trainer John Lally was slapped with a technical.
The Warriors were up, 107-103, when the fireworks began. They made only two of four technical foul shots in all, but that was enough to take care of the game.
Cooper, a skinny forward-center, scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth period. Williams added eight and Parish seven of his 15. Cooper also finished with 12 rebounds.
Washington was sitting on a 93-85 lead in the fourth when Golden State ran off a 12-2 streak. Another spurt moments later, climaxed by two Parish foul shots, had Golden State ahead, 100-99, for the first time since early in the second period.
Larry Wright's 16-footer gave Washington its last advnatage. Parish drove by Elvin Hayes for a three-point play. Wright had his layup blocked by three Warriors and John Lucas banked in an eight-footer for a 105-101 margin.
A Bob Dandrige layup, on which he was knocked to the floor but no foul was called, got Motta and Bickerstaff upset. Then when Unseld shot twice and missed, the game turned into a shouting match.
Hayes finished with 20 points and Dandridge and Wright had 16 each. Unseld, who wound up as coach, pulled down 13 rebounds.
Smith had scored 20 of Golden State's first 41 points when he hurt his Achilles' tendon midway through the second period. He was carried off the floor.
He was making a move on Charles Johnson near the left corner when he fell. He turned over, banged his hand on the court and then crawled out of bounds, where he was examined and taken off.
In the dressing room, it was determined he had torn his right Achilles' tendon. He will be operated on Saturday.
Golden State was ahead, 41-38, when Smith was hurt. The Bullets tied it at 46-all moments later on a 15-footer from Greg Ballard.
Then Wes Unseld stole a pass and connected with Tom Henderson for a length-of-the-court pass and layup. An Unseld layup on a give-and-go pass from Henderson and a Wright layup off an Unseld feed enabled the Bullets to take a 52-50 margin into the dressing room at halftime.
With Smith missing only two of 10 shots in the first period, the Warriors threatened to run away with this one in the same manner as their triumph over Washington here in October.
Smith, working on Johnson, had 18 of the Warriors' first 27 points to enable Golden State to grab a 27-13 lead.
His teammates were almost as accurate. As a team, they shot 70 percent for the quarter, which outshone even 50 percent markmanship by the Bullets.
But Golden State began faltering late in the opening quarter. Phil Chenier replaced Johnson and scored four points during an 8-2 outburst which helped close the gap to eight going into the second.
Smith was removed late in the period and his replacement, Jo Jo White, missed four shots early in the second. Washington took advantage of his problems by scoring 10 unanswered points before Clifford May finally made a basket for Golden State at the 7:40 mark.
By then, the Bullets were up, 34-33, their first lead of the game.
Smith came back but was injured moments later. He finished with nine of 12 accuracy and also had three assists.